Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
In Flanders fields.

2 May 1915
Major John McCrae

I’m thinking of my father today: This Remembrance Day, this Armistice Day, this Veterans Day. This day that was set aside in 1918 to memorialize the end of World War I. The Great War. The War To End All Wars. Now this is the day we remember those soldiers who are no longer with us from all the wars 

Every year on the Sunday before the 11th of November my father and I would attend Remebrance Day services at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Veterans from US, British, Canadian and Australian regiments come to the cathedral and lay a wreath of peace at the alter.

At the end of the service the beautiful poem, In Flanders Fields is read and a shower of red poppies float down from the vaulted cathedral onto the people below. The poppies are a symbol of Remembrance Day because they represent the thousands of poppies that grew over the mass graves and torn up battlefield in Flanders in World War I.

Last year was the last service we attended together. At 91, he was one of the oldest veterans in attendance. This year I just couldn’t go without him.

Today, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month I will be thinking of my father.


  1. BB, I didn't know that was what the red poppies symbolized. The image of the fields of red poppies gives me goose bumps. Sending a big mental hug up to you.

  2. Susie-you should read up on the Battle of Flanders, one of the most horrific and senseless battles of all time. The one battle lasted for 4 months with both the Germans and the English & Allies trying to take a small patch of land outside a small village. The village was sacked and along with the allied soldiers, many hundreds of people were holed up in underground bunkers for the duration of the battle.

    Over 2000 graves are in Flanders Field now--1600 of them unidentified.

    The story is historically fascinating on so many levels.